Pope Francis recently named a priest who serves as the Vatican’s sex crimes prosecutor, who was unsuccessful in reporting an abusive colleague to law enforcement before the now-defrocked and jailed man went on to commit other acts of sexual abuse. Reverend Robert Geisinger, second in command at the Chicago Jesuits during the 1990s, knew as early as in 1995 that fellow priest Donald McGuire was sexually abusing children. Yet, it was only in August 2002 that he advised church officials on how to discipline McGuire.
Boston Globe cited legal documents and church records that were produced in court by McGuire’s victims, all of which prove that complaints against McGuire had been filed as long ago as in the 1960s, but Chicago Jesuits failed to act upon the complaints for several years. McGuire, now 84-years-old, is currently serving a 25-year sentence in a federal prison. The former spiritual leader and gifted teacher, who once advised Mother Teresa, is considered one of the most powerful figures to be convicted in a sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic Church.
Geisinger refused to speak to the media, referring all queries to the Vatican spokesperson Reverend Federico Lombardi. Lombardi said Geisinger had a foolproof and proven record in child protection dating back nearly 20 years. Apparently, Geisinger had voiced concerns about McGuire’s misconduct while serving with the Chicago Jesuits. Reportedly, it was he who prepared the case against McGuire that led to the latter’s eventual dismissal from the Vatican.
“The Holy See fully expects Father Geisinger to continue to do an excellent job as Promoter of Justice, based on his prosecution record, his commitment to justice, and his concern for victims,” Lombardi said.
David Clohessy, director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, released a statement immediately after, demanding Pope Francis withdraws the appointment of Geisinger as the Vatican’s sex crimes prosecutor.
“Why on earth would Francis pick a priest with a problematic track record on abuse in the U.S. to deal with abuse worldwide?” Clohessy said. “Why choose one who so clearly and repeatedly refused to call the law or tell the truth about a notorious, now-imprisoned serial predator?”
Bishop Charles Scicluna, who preceded Geisinger as sex crimes prosecutor, said his successor’s record as prosecutor general at Rome for the Jesuits had been excellent.
“He is a fine canonist dedicated to serving as a very strong promoter of justice,” Scicluna said.
A jury in Wisconsin convicted McGuire of five counts of indecent behavior with a minor in 2006, three years after two adult men alleged they had been sexually abused by the priest on their trips to Fontana in 1967 and 1968. He was sentenced for seven years at that time. However, this reportage led to the federal prosecution of McGuire and he was sentenced for 25 years in 2008, after being accused of traveling outside the United States and across state lines to have sexual intercourse with a teenager. Federal authorities claimed McGuire molested teen boys and young adults through the 1990s up until 2003. In 2013, Chicago Jesuit agreed to pay a compensation of $19.6 million to six men, who said they had been abused by McGuire.
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